Ocular Melanoma Liver Metastases

What is Ocular Melanoma?

Ocular melanoma is a type of eye cancer; which develops in melanocytes; the cells that produce pigment (the substance that gives your skin, hair and eyes colour).13 Ocular Melanoma is rare; affecting 6 in every million people per year.14

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Ocular melanoma often doesn’t cause any symptoms and can be easily detected by an optician during a routine eye test. If symptoms are present they can include:15

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing flashing lights and shadows
  • Brown or dark patches on the white area of the eye.

While a routine eye test can often find ocular melanoma, this does not confirm diagnosis, as a number of other conditions can also cause these symptoms.15

To confirm the diagnosis, patients are referred to specialists who carry out a number of tests:14

  • Ultrasound
  • Colour photography
  • Visual examination of the eye

Secondary Metastatic Tumours

Ocular Melanoma most commonly spreads to the liver (in about 50% of cases) and so it is common practice for your doctors to monitor this area. MRI with contrast agents is the most effective way to diagnosis these secondary liver metastases, as it can show tumours as small as 2-3mm.14 Not all liver metastatic tumours are visible or can be detected by scans such as MRI.

Ocular Melanoma Treatment Options

Depending on the size of the tumour there are a number of treatment options available:14

  • Small and medium tumours are generally treated with radiation.
  • Larger tumours often require removal of the eye known as ‘Enucleation’
  • In cases where the cancer has travelled to a secondary location in the body such as the liver (metastasised) there are a number of treatments available such as; systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy and chemosaturation. Your doctor will decide which treatment is most suitable for you.
  • For some patients, tumours can be surgically removed. Unfortunately, sometimes because of the number and location of tumours in the liver, surgery is not a viable option for many patients